Getting started with the Hololens, what all do you need

Let me start with a big note: YOU DON’T NEED A HOLOLENS TO LEARN HOLOGRAPHIC COMPUTING. Yes, it’s true. You just need a windows 10 PC with the requirements that I outline below. Because you can use the Hololens emulator which runs on the PC and simulates what you could see on the Hololens.

Microsoft has described the steps already very well here: However I am summarising the same and also list some hiccups which you may have while setting up your Hololens environment.

Note that you follow the order of installing the tools below. Because some of them may fail if you break the order.

  1. Windows 10 OS Enterprise or Education Edition (Home is not supported). If you have an option, choose a computer with Windows 10 OS on it and not a Virtual Machine. However, VMs installed with Windows 10 also work. But they are painfully slow
  2. 64-bit CPU (32-bit does not work for Hololens dev)
  3. CPU with 4 cores (or multiple CPU’s with a total of 4 cores)
  4. 8 GB of RAM or more (the more this is, the better)
  5. Hyper-V support. To enable Hyper V in Windows 10 BIOS, follow steps here
  6. Setup the development environment. Again, this is already recorded here very well Note: There is no separate SDK for Hololens
  7. Install the Visual Studio Community edition. Free will do. We do not need the commercial one for personal use. Check the Visual Studio system requirements 

While installing VS, choose the UWP workload. Skip the Unity workload because you will be doing this in the next step

Choose UWP Workload while installing Visual Studio(you can also install this later if you already have VS pre-installed)

8. Install Unity: latest version is always good (anything above 5.5 is good) You are able to do              quite a lot of things with the personal edition (free) already. However if you need extra features (I will indicate this in a few       articles where you’d then buy the license for a Pro version)

While installing Unity,  Windows Store module also to be included

Choose Windows Store Module while installing Unity

9. Hololens Emulator needs Visual Studio before so don’t install this out of order


Some hiccups and solutions for them below:

  1.  You may see an error while installing the emulator that you need “Visual Studio <version> Update 1 and UWP tools version <version #>”. There are two possible causes of this error, 
  • You have Visual Studio <version> Update 1 or later, but you do not have the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) tools installed. This is an optional feature for Visual Studio. You can add this feature by modifying your Visual Studio installation in Programs and Features. This takes some time
  • Hololens emulator installation failed- could be because Visual Studio is not already present on the system. It is a prerequisite for the Emulator to install correctly


I would also insist staying up to date with latest packages and fixes informed on Microsoft’s page: this page has latest updates of the latest tools- therefore I have linked this directly

6 thoughts on “Getting started with the Hololens, what all do you need

  1. Okay stumble on the first step – need to upgrade my windows but not a problem – I have keys.

    However, how much HDD space does all this need (if you exclude Visual Studio, which I already have)? I have a limited sized SSD hard drive and don’t want it running out of space half way down the road. If it’s not gonna be enough, I’ll do this on a VM on an external drive and accept the sluggishness.

    Keep on with the articles.

    1. Hey! HDD requirements are below: (the first one doesn’t apply to you, you only have to install the UWP workload on the existing VS installation)
      – VS 2017 (594 MB) + UWP workload (15.54 GB) + Windows 10 SDK (2.1 GB)
      – Unity 2017 (3.2 GB) (keep in mind projects later will take up some space. The bigger the assets are in Unity, the more space this will consume)
      – Mixed Reality ToolKit for later projects (12 MB)
      – Hololens emulator for VS 2017 (1 MB)
      I personally would not recommend VMs. Resort to it IFF it’s the last hope.
      And thanks! I also updated the article based on some other questions which could come up…

  2. Okay that seems to be manageable. I got VS 2017 Enterprise and I did a select * and installed everything it had and that took over 60gigs on my tiny SSD. So now I’ve gotta be frugal.

    Thanks for the reply. I’ll try this out over the weekend and let you know how it went. Let’s hope the next article comes out by then 🙂

    1. Unfortunately no 🙁 You need the Universal Web Platform with .Net native compiler which is only available with Windows 10 OS. That’s a serious limitation. Hope they make it platform independent soon enough.

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